Shahid Akhter, editor, ETHealthworld, spoke to Deepa Param Singhal, Vice President, Oracle Applications, to figure out the impact and growth of adoption and integration of technology within the healthcare ecosystem.
As we enter the post-pandemic era, what are some of the healthcare-specific trends that may have an impact on the industry in the coming years?
In the last few years, the healthcare industry has undergone tremendous transformations. Ever since the pandemic has been induced, the Indian healthcare industry has embarked on a robust development journey to expand and future proof the health infrastructure. From a policy standpoint, the Indian government is making larger investments for the growth and development of the healthcare sector.
We have seen some very significant and completely new healthcare-specific trends in the post-pandemic phase that are shaping the future of both public and private healthcare organizations. Firstly, we saw an uptake on teleconsultation, in the era of social distancing it became the preferred choice and, in some cases, the only mode of interacting with healthcare providers. This has produced a lot of opportunities within the sector with respect to flexibility and ease of communication. Hence, this trend is expected to stay. Secondly, we saw a larger focus on patient engagement; people worldwide became more aware because of the pandemic. Patients are well-informed and knowledgeable about health-care programmes. Patients are now aware of the importance of better participation, have become more involved and have started increasing their involvement to improve the treatment process. Third, there has been a greater emphasis on developing digitised healthcare infrastructure, which includes everything from digitising health records to creating platforms where patients and doctors can interact across geographies. The Indian government has proposed to roll out integrated electronic health records into a single platform, resulting in a strong digitised network.
Finally, at the core of these trends is the adoption and integration of technology within the healthcare ecosystem, which allows for a smarter, faster, more reliable, and much stronger healthcare system.
What role do advanced technologies such as AI, cloud computing, and automation play in healthcare providers’ processes?
Healthcare being the most significant industry of the country, is wary of the challenges. Considering the large operation field, the complex infrastructure and the large population, challenges are even more difficult for healthcare organizations to overcome. The integration of emerging technologies including Artificial Intelligence, Cloud Computing, Machine Learning and Data Analysis in the healthcare system is contributing significantly to provide much required scalability and flexibility to the sector.
When the pandemic hit us, it was a testing time for all the key sectors especially for the healthcare industry considering it was the healthcare providers at the front-end tackling the health crisis. Many healthcare organisations realised the importance of advanced technologies and the opportunities these create in improvement and evolution of the entire industry. The struggle with unpredictable demand, extremely high administrative cost has even more pushed the industry to a complex operating environment making it challenging for healthcare providers to deliver a seamless and quality patient care service to the masses. Healthcare providers gain a competitive advantage by integrating technologies such as AI, ML, Cloud Computing, and Automation to deliver data-driven, credible, and efficient services. Automation of processes essentially serves as a supporter for the sector, allowing front-line workers to free themselves from time-consuming manual processes and devote more time to patient care.
What are your thoughts on India’s healthcare industry’s growth projections, and how do you see Cloud contributing to the sector’s growth?
According to IBEF, the healthcare market in India is expected to reach US$ 372 billion by 2022, driven by rising income, improved health awareness, lifestyle diseases, and increased insurance access. Furthermore, the report predicts that the e-health market will be worth US$ 10.6 billion by 2025. These are some very strong projections with respect to expanding market size as well as increased focus on digitization with the growth of e-health market. We believe that as healthcare sector evolves with technological developments, it will become much easier and more accessible to provide services to the masses in the coming years. It is expected that by the next decade, the growth can be exponential with tertiary care reaching Tier1, 2 and 3 cities with better infrastructure and accessibility.
In this paradigm shift, cloud based technologies are set to play a vital role to make this transition possible and serve as an enabler for the growth of the sector. With the introduction of e-health, telemedicine, and electronic record keeping, the amount of data entering the system is increasing at an exponential rate. Hence, healthcare providers must reconsider their approach to leveraging the power of dynamic data and emerging technologies to support new operating models. This is where the Cloud comes in, assisting healthcare organisations in accumulating, analysing, and processing data within the system, resulting in much more efficient, automated, and data-driven processes. In a nutshell, cloud is assisting in the advancement of all internal and external operations, such as HR processes, financial and operational management, supply chain management, and customer experience.
While SaaS-based applications are becoming a popular demand these days, what changes has Oracle made to increase the flexibility and personalization of SaaS portfolio?
SaaS applications have grown in popularity over the last few years due to a variety of factors, such as cost-effectiveness, scalability, accessibility, and user-friendliness. While at the same time, there has been debates around the solutions that are standardized with low levels of personalization for businesses operating across industries. At Oracle, we have been extremely focused on providing personalized solutions depending on business needs. To tackle healthcare challenges in the country, harness cloud capabilities and contribute to a digital transformation of the sector, Oracle has made continuous efforts to deliver new solutions that are purpose-built for healthcare providers. During our global flagship event this year, Oracle introduced specialized Supply Chain Management, Human Capital Management and Enterprise Performance Managements solutions for the healthcare industry.
The new industry-focused solutions Supply Chain Management for Healthcare, Human Capital Management for Healthcare and Enterprise Performance Management for Healthcare are part of our existing applications portfolio with additional customizations for the Healthcare sector. The Supply Chain Management for Healthcare solution aims to support the unique requirements of healthcare organizations with optimizing planning, automating processes, and enhancing visibility across the supply chain. Similarly, Human Capital Management for Healthcare enhances employee experience and help the healthcare organisations grow the skills of their staff, reduce burnout and costs by improving efficiency. To help healthcare organizations with better planning and management of their internal processes, we have the Enterprise Performance Management solution. The solution assist organisations in adopting best internal strategies and leveraging innovative technologies to improve insight, optimise planning and forecasting, cut costs, and improve patient care.
What are some of the embedded technologies that generally cloud providers are incorporating into their new product launches, and how healthcare providers are benefitting from these?
Artificial intelligence, machine learning, data analytics, and automation are some of the embedded technologies that are taking centre stage. Cloud providers have recognised the potential of these technologies and are integrating them into their solutions over time. Many cloud providers are incorporating advanced technologies into their new product launches to make them more technology-driven, smarter, and innovative in order to meet their customers’ evolving demands.
Intelligent integrations of technologies such as AI/ML and Data Analytics can help healthcare providers quickly assemble patient insights that lead to predictive analysis. Obtaining patient insights quickly helps healthcare providers identify key areas of patient care that need to be improved. Similarly, by automating internal and external day-to-day processes, healthcare providers can devote more time to patient care and deliver better outcomes.